Hop Stringin’ Party at Blue Mountain Brewery

Posted on May 22, 2013 by

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hop-stringing-with-stan-driver

Stan Driver, the hop farmer for Blue Mountain Brewery, explains the proper way to string hops on Thursday, May 16, at Blue Mountain.

When Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton posted an invitation on Facebook to its Annual Hop Stringin’ Party on Thursday, May 16, I felt like it would be a great way to learn more about the beer making process. The promise of free lunch didn’t hurt either.

After navigating the traffic congestion on Interstate 64, I arrived at Blue Mountain about 11:15 a.m. to find one other volunteer and Stan Driver, Blue Mountain’s hop farmer, waiting on the patio. Luckily, a few more volunteers showed up before we hit the hop garden around 11:30.

Driver gave the volunteers a brief tutorial on how to properly string hops. Basically, hop stringing is almost exactly as it sounds. Workers take hop vines and string them clockwise up a piece of thin rope or twine that is hanging from a trellis. Driver explained that the goal is to string up the most vigorous hop vines and the ones that are growing closest to the base of the rope, and then cut away the vines that are not as vigorous or that grow away from the base.

So, with a pair of pruning shears in hand, I went to work on the hop rows. The work wasn’t hard, but it was tedious and the hot sun made me thirst more for some refreshing water than the beer drinking that was encouraged.

After about two hours, the five volunteers that showed up at the brewery had completed the pruning and hop stringing in the small field near the patio. Now, it was time to celebrate a job well done with Blue Mountain’s homemade brews and the promised free lunch.

The next opportunity to take part in the brewing process will likely be in the fall when Blue Mountain harvests the hops that we helped string. Driver said the half dozen rows of hops would only last about a day at the brewery.

However, the next time I drink a beer at Blue Mountain, I’ll drink it with pride knowing that my sweat and newfound skills played a small, possibly even minuscule, part in its brewing.

hop-stringing

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Posted in: cheers